Perennial presidential candidate Ralph Nader isn't running for the nation's highest office this year, but that's not stopping him from forcefully speaking his mind.
The longtime consumer advocate told Politico on Tuesday that he thinks President Barack Obama is a "war criminal" who's "worse" than his predecessor, President George W. Bush, but probably not quite as bad as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
"He’s gone beyond George W. Bush in drones, for example," Nader told reporter Patrick Gavin. "He thinks the world is his plate, that national sovereignties mean nothing, drones can go anywhere. They can kill anybody that he suspects and every Tuesday he makes the call on who lives and who dies, supposed suspects in places like Yemen and Pakistan and Afghanistan, and that is a war crime and he ought to be held to account."
President Obama's own attorneys recognize that key portions of the U.S. drone bombing campaign in Pakistan and other countries are legally questionable, according to a report in The Wall St. Journal on Wednesday. That's especially the case in Pakistan, which has stopped giving direct approval to U.S. drone strikes, but the bombs continue to fall anyway.
Casualty figures collected from media reports by the nonprofit New America Foundation show that between 1,877 and 3,177 people have been killed by drone strikes from 2004-2012, most of them being civilians. The vast majority of deaths reportedly happened during 2010, President Obama's second year on the job. A study published this week by researchers at Stanford and New York Universities also claimed that only about 2 percent of the people killed in U.S. drone strikes were actual militants, saying at least 176 of those slain were children.
Nader added that Obama's intellect and experience helped legitimize Bush's "lawless war-mongering and militarism," making him a "more effective evil" than Romney. However, he warned that the former Massachusetts governor is not to be trifled with either, calling him the greater of the two evils and warning that he's "basically a corporation running for president masquerading as a human being."
Romney, like Obama, says he favors using drone strikes instead of putting soldiers on the ground. He also suggested during a Republican primary debate that Pakistanis are actually "comfortable" with them. Former Romney surrogate Tim Pawlenty also announced last June that a President Romney would be more fervent in his use of drones than Obama, saying the current administration has not gone "far enough."
This video is from Politico, published Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012.
Photo: Screenshot via Politico.